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Free World Cup tickets offered
April 15, 2007 21:49 IST
World Cup organisers were giving away 10,000 free tickets on Sunday for the Super Eights match between Bangladesh and Ireland at the Kensington Oval.
The contest between the two surprise second-round qualifiers began in front of a sparse crowd after more than 20,000 ticket holders from India and Pakistan, who had been scheduled to meet on Sunday but were eliminated in the first round, chose to stay away from the ground.
Twenty two thousand tickets had been pre-sold but with a non-returns policy in place, many cut their losses and cancelled their travel plans to the Caribbean.
"We estimated that there would be a large number of tickets not taken up for this match purely because India and Pakistan have not qualified," Francine Charles, spokeswoman for the local organising committee, said.
"We have also come to this conclusion because we know that quite a few fans -- we haven't got exact numbers -- have not taken up their rooms at hotels.
"The first two matches in Barbados, which should have featured India and Pakistan, also gave us an indication as 20,000 tickets were sold for the Australia-Ireland [scheduled to be Australia v Pakistan] match but only 12,000 showed up."
From 11am local time (1500 GMT), locals can turn up at Kensington Oval and claim their free voucher and be shown to an empty seat. Should the original ticket holder arrive, stewards will then shift them to an alternative seat.
World Cup debutants Ireland sealed 1992 champions Pakistan exit after a shock first-round win in Group D, while Bangladesh secured their passage after a surprise win over India in Group B.
Despite the absence of the two Asian powerhouses from the stadium, there are still more Indian flags visible in the stands than Irish or Bangladeshi ones.
Twin sisters Sonia and Vijita Rai are Indian fans but decided to make the most of their 2000 pounds trip from their home in London to watch the action.
"Obviously we would have preferred to watch India but it's too late for that now so we are just going to enjoy the matches and the holiday as Barbados is a beautiful place to be, with or without cricket," Vijita, an accountant, said.
Not all fans were prepared to remain in Barbados without the lure of watching Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and company.
Ajay Vadhi, who runs an ice cream business in the Southern Indian city of Hyderabad, watched England's victory over Bangladesh earlier in the week but moved on to Miami for five days as he could not bring himself to watch Bangladesh against Ireland.
"We came halfway around the world to watch India against Pakistan as that is what the World Cup is all about," Vadhi said.
"We were hoping to stay until the 18th but our team let us down and we have now changed our plans. They are like rock stars and movie stars. They don't want to sweat for their country. Their performance was disgusting to watch."
The seven-week tournament culminates with the final in Barbados on April 28.
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